UK drone police powers

The 27th January saw the second reading of a parliamentary bill which extends the police powers to land or even seize drones by using counter-drone technology.

The Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill aims to improve security around sensitive locations such as prisons and airfields.  Of course the power to inspect and confiscate drones will not exist to be arbitrarily applied.  Officers will have the powers to carry out these actions is an offence has been committed and a warrant is obtained.  Drone users however will face the possibility of on-to-spot fines for such offences as

  • failure to provide evidence of competency
  • failure to provide registration details
  • flying aircraft to close to buildings or above the 400 ft height limit
  • failure to provide evidence of permissions or exemption
  • Fines could be up to £2500

Whilst it is widely accepted that it is not possible to legislate against a determined malicious drone user, this new legislation is also designed to have little effect on safe and legal drone operators other than having to ensure that the remember to carry all of their documentation with them on site.  It aims instead to provide a deterrent to careless pilots and ultimately give police the powers to deal with them swiftly and decisively.